Portal writer Erik Wolpaw still wants to make Portal 3, but Valve's 'flat structure' makes it a challenge

Portal 2
(Image credit: Valve)

Valve's allergy to the number three continues. While the desire for a third Portal game might not be quite as powerful as the hunger for Half-Life 3 (or even just Episode 3), the mind-bending puzzle series continues to have plenty of fans eager to see it continue, including Portal writer Erik Wolpaw. Unfortunately, the likelihood of another sequel remains hard to gauge.  

Wolpaw has advocated for Portal 3 before, hoping to inspire action in the company to which he returned as a part-time contractor back in 2019 after a stint at Double Fine. In December he even revealed that he had a "starting point" for Portal 3, but that this didn't mean Valve had committed to developing it. Four months on, it seems that not much has changed. 

In an interview with Simon Parkin on the My Perfect Console podcast, Wolpaw explained the difficulties in getting the sequel off the ground. "In a flat structure like Valve, there is an opportunity cost to doing anything. Whatever is going on at Valve right now requires the dedication and participation of the people working on it—and it's voluntary."

So there needs to be enough people at Valve willing to work on Portal 3. But in the meantime, Wolpaw is going to keep pushing for it and—jokingly—giving Valve a hard time. "The people who could be disturbed by it internally understand that it's just me joking around," he added.

A source of frustration for fans is that there have been long periods of time where Valve hasn't seemingly been developing anything else, so why not Portal 3? Or Half-Life 3? But Wolpaw defends his employer. 

"Valve is not a giant company. I think people sometimes think it is because of the outsized influence of Steam, but it's not really that many people. It takes manpower to keep Dota going, it takes manpower to keep CSGO going. And the freeform nature of Valve means that there are a lot of experiments that simply fail. So things are happening—if you were inside Valve, you would think that stuff was always going on, because it is."

And Valve has clearly been busy lately, what with the launch of the Steam Deck and development of Counter-Strike 2. And there's Steam itself, which remains the most important piece of software Valve has ever designed or maintained. 

"As much I enjoy the things I worked on at Valve and my time at Valve, and it's important to me, if I had to choose between Valve's games and Steam—which I feel is the most democratising technology that ever came out, to allow people to create games, game creators to actually make games and get them in front of people—I guess I would choose Steam," said Wolpaw. 

So there will always be things competing for attention at Valve. "It's a manpower problem," said Wolpaw. "You have to pick what you're going to work on and time is limited."

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.